Here, we report the toxic effects of various imidazolium-based ionic liquids (ILs) with varying hydrocarbon chain lengths, on different human cell lines. Multiple biological assays have shown that the ILs with long hydrocarbon chains have stronger adverse effect especially on human liver cancer cells (Huh-7.5 cells). Further, our study has confirmed that the ILs induce necrosis dependent cell death and that it is related to cell membrane damage. To understand the molecular mechanism of such an effect, the cellular membranes were mimicked as lipid monolayers formed at the air-water interface and then as lipid bilayer vesicles. The pressure area-isotherms measured from the monolayer have shown that the interaction of ILs with the lipid layer is energetically favourable. The addition of these ILs reduces the in-plane elasticity of the self-assembled molecular layer. Quasielastic neutron scattering data clearly indicate that ILs in liver lipid vesicles significantly affects the dynamics of the lipid, in particular, the lateral motion of the lipids. It has been concluded that the mammalian cell death induced by these ILs is due to the modulated structure and altered physical properties of the cellular membrane. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.